Give Pain the Cold Shoulder



Shoulder pain is a common complaint among athletes and racquet-sport aficionados (squash, racquetball, tennis) are no exception. Shoulder injuries in racquet sports are often caused by the high-velocity and repetitive arm movements that characterize the sport; and those motions often lead to overuse injuries. For our indoor racquet sport fans, let us also not forget that concrete walls are typically very unforgiving when you collide with them.

The shoulder is an amazing joint that is able to move in every direction. With that great mobility, or range of motion, comes an inherent lack of stability. The shoulder is not designed to be stable like a knee joint, rather it relies on muscle strength and coordination (not just on bone structure) to stay in a “good” position.

When the muscles that control the shoulder joint become weak, overused, or pinched they stop working well. This changes the way the arm bone, the humerus, sits on the scapula, or shoulder blade. Imagine for a moment that the air is low in your car tires and you don’t notice it for the first hundred miles (hey, it happens!)….but when you do notice, that slight decrease in air has caused bigger problems (tire alignment, shock and strut problems, etc.)….the shoulder is the same way; small changes in muscle strength and coordination may not bother you at first, but given enough time pain is almost certain to occur.

So instead of having to fix shoulder pain, let’s prevent it from occurring in the first place…preventative maintenance! A few minutes, just a couple times a week, will keep your shoulders in tip-top playing shape. I recommend you start with Y’s and T’s.


If you already have shoulder pain, seeing a physical therapist sooner rather than later will help solve the problem and prevent it from re-occurring.

Welcome back to the gym, after a (hopefully) great Thanksgiving….Stay healthy my friends!

Virginia Dula, DPT, OCS
Release Physical Therapy
Washington, DC